The Glass Pearls

Faber. Oct. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780571371044. pap. $12.95. THRILLER
Known for his partnership with British film director Michael Powell (The Red Shoes), Hungarian-born Jewish screenwriter Pressburger’s second and final novel is a gripping and provocative story of a notorious Nazi doctor in hiding. Twenty cautious years have passed since visionary brain surgeon Dr. Otto Reitmüller submerged himself into the person of mild-mannered London piano tuner Karl Braun, but a sudden extension of the statute of limitations for his crimes, combined with a dawning love affair, threaten to upset his studied equilibrium. Pressburger’s feat lies in arousing readers unforced sympathy for the circumspect, beleaguered Braun, an idealistic, cultured, and gentle man with sorrows and dreams of his own, dogged by mounting fears of discovery yet utterly lacking any sense of guilt for his ghastly misdeeds. As the noose seems to tighten and Braun teeters on the brink, masquerading in the pilfered memories of his victims, readers will find themselves fascinated, and implicated.
VERDICT Combining masterly psychological suspense with a moral heft rivalling that of Greene, Le Carré, and Hans Fallada, this is a singularly compelling addition to Holocaust literature.
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